South Dakotans seeking tougher penalties for wanton cruelty to dogs, cats, and horses will get a hearing before the Legislature. Senators Stand Adelstein and Dan Lederman and Reps. Anne Hajek and Paula Hawks have signed on as sponsors to Senate Bill 171, which would raise malicious and intentional cruelty to dogs, cats, and horses to a felony offense. That change would bring South Dakota's laws on treatment of dogs, cats, and horses up to standards already in place in most other states.

SB 171 hit the hopper the same day that the House almost unanimously passed a pre-emptive propaganda resolution promulgated by the ag-industrial complex. House Concurrent Resolution 1001 was just the latest in a history of ploys by Ag United and other big-business lobbyists to misrepresent efforts to punish sociopaths who skin cats alive as an assault on farming, ranching, and the South Dakota Way of Life. HCR 1001 and certain conservative confabulists claim that "extreme animal rights organizations" like the Humane Society of the United States and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are out to kill agriculture with animal protection laws like SB 171.

However, Shari Kosel of Lead, the leading advocate for SB 171, has pointed out that she and her fellow activists have drafted the current bill in response to the concerns of the ag community. They have carefully chosen their language to ensure that it does not impact agriculture. She has also averred on this blog that her group is 100% grassroots South Dakotans.

In the face of the logic and compromise of their fellow South Dakotans, opponents will keep resorting to silly ideological and personal arguments, as exemplified by conservative mouthpiece Pat Powers. The GOP blogger lost his ability to write some years ago; working in the Secretary of State's office, Powers apparently caught Jason Gant's inability to read. He takes to the Webwaves to impute some nefarious wishy-washiness to SB 171's single Democratic sponsor, Rep. Hawks, for also sponsoring and voting for HCR 1001. As one of my eager readers notes, Powers fails to read the full sponsor lines of both measures and notice that his Republican friend and employer, Senator Lederman, is also a cosponsor of both measures.

More importantly, Powers fails to read both measures and realize one could express support for both South Dakota agriculture and for SB 171's tougher punishment for dangerous individuals who perpetrate cruelty against dogs, cats, and horses. He just cuts and pastes bill titles next to a Democrat's name and launches his insults.

Legislators, don't let the the illogical rages of Pat Powers and Steve Dick distract you from debating the merits of the bill text before you. In Senate Bill 171, Shari Kosel and her fellow South Dakotans offer you a reasonable compromise that can help stop violent offenders from turning their vicious impulses from animals to people. Debate the bill, not the personal attacks and fantasies coming from the Right.